S. Tia Brown: R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Dealing with Co-Workers

14 Apr

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This week I look at issues of respect from both co-workers and your nearest and dearest.
I am 28-years-old and work in an office full of 45-56 year-old women. My issue is how to talk to them when they say things I do not like without being disrespectful.Young & Angry In The Office

Dear Young & Angry In The Office,
I’m a firm believer of showing deference to elders, however the office isn’t the place to act out societal roles— you’re there to do your job. I firmly believe that the only way to get respect is to demand it. Some people have that certain thing about them that ensures people, whether they’re older or younger, never test them. Other people have to go get it. So how do you command respect? First, you always make sure that you’re on top of your game, for the work environment that means being efficient, punctual and dependable. Second, you have to speak up for yourself and address every infraction in a stern, tactful, professional way. That may mean giving a soliloquy about respect (such as, “we’re all on equal footing here, I give respect and I expect it,”) or taking people aside an individual when they say something that you deem is inappropriate. Only you can determine which approach will work best. Overall you want to make sure that you leave personal roles at home, these ladies are not your aunties, and they’re your co-workers –who likely take issue with working with someone 20 years their junior – so treat them as such.

My fiancé and I are planning a big, lavish, wedding and we have restricted our families to only inviting a certain number of people, so as not to exceed my parent’s budget. My fiancé’s family is insisting on inviting many more people than they are allotted and it has caused the price of the reception to soar. Do you think that I should demand that his family pay for some of the reception, or at least the head count of the additional people that they are inviting, or does that break some etiquette rules?Breaking the Bank for the Big Day

Dear Breaking the Bank for the Big Day,

Etiquette was out of the door once your future in-laws stepped on your toes and didn’t respect your parents’ budget. Since they —like many others—love to plan with other people’s money I would like to tell you to just make them pay for their extra guests, but that could potentially cause long-term strife with your hubby-to-be. Consequently, you need to speak with him first and make sure you’re on the same page about the finances and the numbers. If both families were given an equal amount of guests then it is up to him to make sure that he stands firm by your side when you speak with his family. During the conversation make sure to reiterate that the day is you and your fiancé’s, but you understand why it is to the family, but your parents – who are paying – have given you a budget and it is disrespectful to expect them to pay any excess. Let them know the precise number of people that they are allowed to invite and that any extra guests must be pre-paid for by specific date if they are to be seated. You can also opt to include your parents in on the meeting. I doubt that your future in-laws will speak recklessly or be callous about spending your parents’ money in their faces. With that said…standing firm is only possible if you are financially independent of your in laws. You don’t want to play hardball with someone who’s helping to pay your rent/mortgage or watching your kids for free. So make sure that you’re in a position where you can’t be penalized for standing up for yourself – and your parents – or you may end up paying a bigger price later.

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One Response to “S. Tia Brown: R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Dealing with Co-Workers”

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